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Review: The Long Con #1

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Five years ago, a cataclysmic event obliterated everything within a fifty-mile radius of the Los Spinoza Convention Center — including the attendees of Long Con, the world’s biggest (and longest) comic convention. But unknown to the outside world, the con-goers not only survived, they kept the convention going. When proof of their survival surfaces, reporter Victor Lai is sent to investigate — after all, he was covering the con that fateful day and escaped mere minutes before everything went kablooie… abandoning his nerdy pal Dez in the process. So clearly he’s the perfect person for the job, and he won’t get trapped inside like some kinda idiot. Right?

Things get weird in the premiere issue of The Long Con, as past and present collide in numerous ways. The comic teases what happened in the days before a cataclysmic event decimated everything inside a fifty-mile radius of Los Spinoza Convention Center where it just so happens that a major comic convention was being held. The comic uses the location and premise to have fun with it all delivering a first issue that never fully reveals what happened. It also pokes fun at fandom, and Star Trek, but never so in a mean way. You can tell there’s a love of the subject matter and it’s all in a good and harmless way. The characters are varied and while we only have two main ones so far, there’s more than enough to stand them apart.

The art style manages to balance the before and after events of the quarantine well giving a very clear delineation between the time periods. The true surprise, and fun, lies in the present as Victor enters the Los Spinoza Convention Center. The art takes inspiration from geekdom and conventions and uses it all in some entertaining ways. Like the writing, the art is having fun with it all.

There’s a love of the subject matter and this is a solid entry into the growing genre of comic conventions gone wrong. A lot of the fun will be what winks and nods to fandom will be throughout and as a start, this is solid, fun, entertainment.

Story: Ben Coleman, Dylan Meconis Art: E.A. Denich
Color: M. Victoria Robado
Cover: E.A. Denich, M. Victoria Robado
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Oni Press provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Farmhand #1

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Jedidiah Jenkins is a farmer—but his cash crop isn’t corn or soy. Jed grows fast-healing, plug-and-play human organs. Lose a finger? Need a new liver? He’s got you covered. Unfortunately, strange produce isn’t the only thing Jed’s got buried. Deep in the soil of the Jenkins Family Farm, something dark has taken root, and it’s beginning to bloom.

Creator Rob Guillory delivers a brand new series in Farmhand that feels like it shares a lot with his previous Chew. Both are dark comedies with a quirky twist on the current world.

In Farmhand #1, a son returns to the family farm with a family of his own in tow. It’s an attempt to mend bridges with his father Jedidiah as well as his sister. What he discovers is a farm unlike which he left. It’s now a tourist destination where science has gone sinister with agriculture growing organs and body parts, all lead by his father. In the process of the family reunion, someone breaks into the farm leading to the real meat of the series. What secrets is Jedidiah Jenkins hiding at his farm? What horrors await? Farmhand builds on a weird and twisted mystery like Chew did and that’s a good thing. The formula works, roll with it.

The art style by Guillory, with color by Taylor Wells, manages to balance the macabre with the a small town, down home farmer lifestyle. The art shows off the strange nightmares of the farm creating a world that’s both full of wonder and horror. There’s something very off about it all but the style in which it’s all presented creates a comedic tone no matter how dark it gets. It never goes fully dark that way.

The first issue sets up a fascinating world and a mystery that’s exciting to see what comes next. Guillory has a style all to his own in both look and tone and this comic delivers on that. A twisted and weird debut that has us coming back for more.

Story: Rob Guillory Art: Rob Guillory
Color: Taylor Wells Lettering: Kody Champerlain
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Immortal Men #2

“The End of Forever” part two! Following the destruction of their base of operations, the Immortal Men find themselves on the defensive! Their only hope rests with an emerging metahuman named Caden Park—but the evil Conquest has gotten to Caden first! Will the remaining few battle-ravaged Immortal Men be able to rescue their young would-be savior? And what connection do Caden’s tactile telepathic abilities have to the survival of humanity?

In The Immortal Men #2, things escalate for Caden as he runs from both his would-be protectors and the ones who want him dead. There’s a certain Terminator aspect in that way and it’s a trope that we’ve seen before. Storytellers James Tynion IV and Ryan Benjamin give us something a little different as he also uses this issue to explain the various characters and world a little more. Through the details of action or just outright dialogue, we learn more about each character, their powers, and whats’ going on. And, it’s packed with a lot of action through it all.

The art by Benjamin, inker Richard Friend, and colorist David Baron amplifies the action and really creates a frenetic pacing through the issue. As stated above it all also helps us be introduced to the various characters as we learn more about their powers and origins. Letterer Carlos M. Mangual is also important as some of the lettering actual creates a better understanding of who and what these characters are. Some have a specific style that creates greater depth and understanding of who they are. Through all of that action, the cast grows with more members of the House of Conquest. There is a sense of familiarity to characters that have come before whether on purpose or not, we’ll see. Some of the comic has a very 90s feel about it all.

The second issue sets a crazy pace as we’re introduced to more of this world and characters. There’s a lot packed in here and though the first two issues feel decompressed, they are also entertaining in what’s presented.

Story: James Tynion IV, Ryan Benjamin
Ink: Richard Friend Color: David Baron Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Coda #1

In the aftermath of an apocalypse which wiped out nearly all magic from a once-wondrous fantasy world, a former bard named Hum (a man of few words, so nicknamed because his standard reply is “hm”) seeks a way to save the soul of his wife with nothing but a foul-tempered mutant unicorn and his wits to protect him…but is unwillingly drawn into a brutal power struggle which will decide forever who rules the Weird Wasteland.

Simon Spurrier manages to create an intriguing post-apocalyptic world with Coda #1 that seems to a strange product of blending Mad Max and Lord of the Rings. Spurrier takes elements from both of them to create an impressive premiere issue.  The first issue follows the journey of an unusual bard, who wants to save his wife. Through him we’re introduced into a world where magic is a commodity and the shortage has led to a magical apocalypse. With a tech blend, the world is so much more than swords and sorcery with a steampunk-ish tinge to it all. There’s so much potential here and as a debut it’s beyond impressive in its world building.

Matías Bergara‘s art with color by Michael Doig is impressive. It takes in a mixture of bleak sights, and inspiring sights as Hum’s journey begins. As the issue progresses the art reveals the more fantasy inspired elements of the world, including a talking skeleton of an immortal dragon, something rather original. Also standing out is the lettering of Colin Bell who really uses the size of he lettering itself to set personalities and drive the dialogue. Some words are very small as if talking under one’s breath or muttering. It adds personality to a comic that’s full of it.

This first issue is fantastic creating a world that is begging to be explored and characters that make it entertaining. There’s a lots of fantasy out there but this debut manages to find more than enough that feels new and unique to make it stand out from the pack.

Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Matías Bergara
Wraparound Main Cover: Matías Bergara Intermix Cover: Jae Lee Incentive Cover: Jeff Stokely
Color: Michael Doig Letterer: Colin Bell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Death or Glory #1

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Meet Glory, raised off the grid in a convoy amid truckers—the last men and women fighting for true freedom on the American open road. Now, in order to pay for her beloved dying Father’s surgery, Glory has three days to pull off four dangerous cross-country heists with mob killers, crooked cops, and a psycho ex-husband all out to bring her in or die trying.

This new ongoing series examines our dwindling freedoms and the price paid by those who fight for an untethered life, in this special double-sized first issue with 40 pages of story!

Death or Glory #1 packs a wallop in this premiere issue.  It kicks off with a strange mix of mob ethics and a triple homicide. And that’s before we get to the title character Glory. Writer Rick Remender brings things together quickly as segments intersect as the issue progresses. There’s a lot here but underneath it all it sticks to its themes and asks questions. One stands out; What is the cost being truly free?

Artist Bengal brings his impressive art style for the series. With a focus on details the issue has an Americana feel to it. The issue’s style mixes a bit of classic and modern which too ties into its themes and the American concept of the free rebel. The details are fantastic with each panel telling a story and adding to Remender’s dialogue. Each character and location is easily understood by the visuals. Bengal manages to keep the action with some polished car chases, as Glory tries to save someone she cares for and pull off… well, read the comic.

The first issue is all about its personality and underlying themes. This is a comic with a focus on what it wants to say and what it wants to project. And all of that together comes together for a hell of a lot of fun.

Story: Rick Remender Art: Bengal Variant Cover: Duncan Fegredo, James Harren
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Deathbed #2

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Dearest Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you of the passing of Margaret Mars, philanthropist, globetrotter and onetime lover of Antonio Luna. Her noble pursuit of humanitarian causes dates back to the first word she ever spoke (“Peace”), which is juxtaposed with the seven words she uttered right before being assassinated (“Who let these ninjas into my house?!”). Indeed, these seven words paint an inexplicably bizarre, yet accurate, picture of her final moments on earth. Who let these ninjas into her house, and why were they there to begin with? What business did a pack of inhuman zombie-mummy-ninjas have with Ms. Mars, and why did they murder her? Fascinating questions, none of which we have the answers to. But Ms. Mars would not want us to grieve! Ms. Mars’ will states her desire that we celebrate her life and not mourn her death (as horrific and gruesome as it may have been)! So come! Be merry and help us send off the great Maggie Mars in a way that honors her remarkable life!

 

Just be sure not to invite Antonio Luna.

The adventurous and odd life of Antonio Luna continues to be revealed in Deathbed #2. Someone is killing off everyone Antonio Luna has come into contact with and that includes one of his greatest loves, Ms. Mars. That’s the set up of this issue as Luna heads to the wake leading to hilarious and sad results.

Writer Joshua Williamson continues to hold nothing back in this issue that’s both funny and offensive. And through the cringeworthy humor, we also get a glimpse of Luna the man and how egocentric he truly is. It’s a fascinating character and way to allow us to dive further into his world and experiences. We might not like Luna but we understand him.

The art by Riley Rossmo with colors by Ivan Plascencia continues to drop subtle hints and reveal the life of Antonia Luna. The scenes and situations vary from the streets of Paris to the desert with mutants and a funeral. Every one important in telling Luna’s life and adding to his story that’s being told. The art in this case may be more important than the dialogue as it not only tells so much of Luna’s history but also delivers much of the humor that the dialogue sets up. The lettering by Deron Bennett is important too as it sets each scene and emotional punch and in some cases helps land the joke.

The issue continues the inappropriateness that is the exploration of Luna’s life and when you think it can’t get anymore cringeworthy funny, you’re proven wrong. A fantastic series that delivers laughs with some heart underneath.

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Riley Rossmo
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Deron Bennett
Executive Edits: Mark Doyle Edits: Amedeo Turturro
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Wilds #1

After a cataclysmic plague sweeps across America, survivors come together to form citystate-like communities for safety.

Daisy Walker is a Runner for The Compound, a mix of post-apocalyptic postal service and black market salvaging operation. It is a Runner’s job to ferry items and people between settlements, and on occasion scavenge through the ruins of the old world. Daisy is the best there is at what she does.

Out beyond the settlement walls are innumerable dangers: feral animals, crumbling structures, and Abominations — those that were touched by the plague and became something other. After a decade of surviving, Daisy isn’t phased by any of it — until her lover, another Runner named Heather, goes missing on a job. Desperate to find her, Daisy begins to see that there may be little difference between the world inside the walls and the horrors beyond.

Writer Vita Ayala manages to create an interesting post-apocalyptic story of love, and survival with The Wilds. The first issue doesn’t just focus on the bleak now but balances things by showing us a brief glimpse of the world before and a grander glimpse at the world that follows. Humanity survives in walled-in settlements trying to protect itself as it sends Runners out to gather supplies, messages, and trade and the main character Daisy seems to be one the best runners at her compound. It’s an interesting focus in that it feels like it puts the weight of the story on one person’s shoulders as opposed to a group. The stakes feel a bit higher in that way. And when her lover Heather questions her commitment, things get interesting. The fact Daisy is the best there is at what she does, her retiring makes it a bit more dire. If she quits, will this community fall apart? There’s a nice metaphor about society being built on the backs of hard laborer.

The art by Emily Pearson with color by Marissa Louise possesses an interesting offset balance of the falling apart world and the semblance of normality humanity fights to posses inside the compounds. The art also is the reveal about some of the creatures they call Abominations. Which seem to have flowers and other plant life growing out of thier skin, despite possessing human bodies. And that detail is about what we know of the affliction that has impacted humanity. It’s also enough to tell a story unto itself. The detail is subtle and the color helps that detail stand out.

The first issue is a good one diving into a familiar genre but delivering something that feels new and different.

Story: Vita Ayala Art: Emily Pearson Colors: Marissa Louise Covers: Natasha Alterici
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studio provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Review: Oblivion Song #1

A decade ago, 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government made every attempt to recover them, but after many years, they gave up. Nathan Cole…won’t. He makes daily trips, risking his life to try and rescue those still living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe…Nathan is looking for something else? Why can’t he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song?

Oblivion Song is an interesting new tale from the mind of Robert Kirkman. The first issue introduces us to the world splitting time between the Oblivion world of Philadelphia and the real world equivalent. The story’s heart revolves around the character Nathan searching for survivors as well as his brother, before the various monsters and creatures can consume him. But that’s not the only challenge, in the real world, Nathan and a few other fight to get proper funding for their project that the government yanked. Will Nathan find his brother, or will he be lost to the Oblivion? That seems to be the main focus in a series whose first issue also touches upon PTSD and a world dealing with the aftermath.

The art by Lorenzo De Felici and colorist Annalisa Leoni manages to capture the strange duality of this series in a superb manner. It brings to life strange monstrous and frequently ugly creatures in the Oblivion and the consumed landscape of Philadelphia. There’s contrast of the unusual landscape of Oblivion with things and items not yet consumed by it. That detail extends to the real world where small details like names on a memorial and news crawl deliver as much story as the monsters within.

The first issue is hyped and delivers an experience that entertains and creates a world we both do and don’t want to visit.

Story: Robert Kirkman Art: Lorenzo De Felici Color: Annalisa Leoni
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Deathbed #1

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Myth, hack, sex symbol, stark raving lunatic—all of these words have been used to describe Antonio Luna, the world’s greatest living adventurer. Or at least he was until 20 years ago, when he mysteriously vanished from the public eye. Now the ninety-year-old has returned and claims to be on his deathbed. Which is where Valentine Richards, a failed novelist turned reporter, comes in. Val is hired to travel to Luna’s remote castle home and uncover where the old star has been all these years, and just how much of what he says is actually true. But once Val starts to hear Luna’s tale, she finds herself entering into an insane world of psychedelic violence and explosive supernatural adventure.

In Deathbed #1, what starts out relatively normal quickly takes a hard right into strange territory. Val reluctantly agrees to ghostwrite the life story of mysterious Antonio Luna, that seems simple enough. What happens next is not what was expected. Writer Joshua Williamson delivers a story that you think will go one way but then surprises you. What was thought to be an adventurer recounting his life turns into something completely else.

The art by Riley Rossmo is interesting and intriguing simultaneously. The first issue shows the diverse capabilities of Rossmo as he not only creates scenes of action but also puts in numerous details to give depth to the characters. The art hints at the great spectacle of odd things and adventure that Luna has had throughout his life with Williamson spelling it out. All of it leads to a specter of slaughter that helps deliver the punchline of the first issue.

The first issue is a fun one delivering lots of mystery and action and does so in a way that is unexpected.

Story: Joshua Williamson Art: Riley Rossmo
Ink: Riley Rossmo Color: Ivan Plascencia
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Koshchei the Deathless #1

Sent to kill Hellboy by the Baba Yaga in Darkness Calls, Koshchei the Deathless hinted at a long and tragic life before being enslaved to the Russian witch. Now Koshchei relives every horrible act on his road to immortality and beyond, with none other than Hellboy himself–in Hell.

Mike Mignola returns to Hell and to the bizarre folklore that’s filled some of his greatest books, reuniting with one of his favorite collaborators, Ben Stenbeck.

The history of Koshchei begins to be revealed in Koshchei the Deathless #1. The first issue shows the bloody and violent nature of his life as an unkillable soldier and how that came to be. We also get glimpses of his brief happy moments as the husband of a princess, of a land unknown. The happiness is brief as he is killed but that also emphasizes the tragedy of it all. The tragedy leads to the tragedy and bloody path of his future actions.

Like most things set in the Mignola-verse, there is a proper sense of darkness in the story, that is reflected in the art by Ben Stenbeck. Stenbeck mixes in some images to hint at the historical aspect of it all along with the fantastical elements of the Mingola Hellboy world.

The first issue is a fantastic one adding another layer to the Hellboy universe and as usual mixes the fantastical and the grounded for a perfect mix.

Story: Mike Mignola Art: Ben Stenbeck
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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